Things to do in Montréal - October 12 to 18

Cooler days and autumnal colours come to Montréal this week, from Mount Royal Park to the Gardens of Light. Meanwhile, the Festival du nouveau cinéma wraps up and MAPP_MTL projects high-tech artistry downtown, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal dance, the art of Alexander Calder inspires, and live music rocks the city.

Discover more with our partners

Autumn activities for all ages

As the leaves change colour and fall, a visit to Mount Royal is a must – stop by Café suspendu du mont Royal every weekend throughout October for refreshing beverages, live music and free activities. Go from Mount Royal Park's greenery through city streets to the St. Lawrence River on the beautiful Promenade Fleuve-Montagne path, featuring monuments, art installations and more along the way. Among the many free things to do this fall in Montréal, see the colourful urban art of Surfaces, l'expo d'art urbain on the Promenade des Artistes, and at night see why Montréal is a city of lights: look up to see the incredible digital artistry of MAPP_MTL, featuring high-tech projections on buildings in the Quartier des spectacles, free tours and more from October 18 to 20; see high-tech wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica; and spot Montréal en Histoires - Cité Mémoire projections throughout Old Montréal. Wander among the colourful lanterns and lighting displays of Gardens of Light in the Montréal Botanical Garden's Chinese, Japanese and First Nations gardens. Also at the Botanical Garden, The Great Pumpkin Ball delights with hundreds of decorated squashes and pumpkins, story time with witches and other characters and crafty activities for kids. If you're strolling through the Old Port of Montréal, stop by the Marché des Éclusiers market or play on pirate ship ropes course Voiles en Voiles, the MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe and high-tower experience Indoors, stop by the free Place des Arts junior family day activities on October 14 or join the fun at Montréal's kid friendly museums. Whether you're in Montréal for a long weekend or a week, discover the autumnal beauty of the city and nearby countryside with these fall harvest activities in and around Montréal and great day trips.


City sights

Bird's-eye views of the city await in the comfort of the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port or the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park – learn more about the city's Olympic history on a tour of the tower and Olympic Park while you're there or experience an Olympian's journey in the Canadian Olympic Experience at Canadian Olympic Committee headquarters downtown. Stroll through Montréal's Chinatown to see historic sights and have a great meal. Or sit back and relax at some of Montréal's best spas – Bota Bota boasts a fab view of the St. Lawrence River. Learn more about the city's history and culture on a walking tour of Quartier des spectacles, from its Red Light era to recent transformations. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's major sights and architecture. In pro sports sights: the Montréal Canadiens take on the Penguins on October 13, the Red Wings on October 15 and the Blues on October 17 at the Bell Centre. And Montréal's CWHL team Les Canadiennes plays the Calgary Inferno on October 13 at Place Bell. Find all this and more on My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer. Whether you're coming to Montréal solo or with family, arrive in the heart of the action by train on VIA Rail Canada.


Food and drink

Make your reservations now for MTLàTABLE, Montréal's restaurant week, featuring prix-fixe affordably priced meals at 150 great restaurants from November 1 to 11. In the meantime, indulge in these Montréal meals worth writing home about and top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller. See autumn's changing colours while surrounded by nature as you eat at Montréal's restaurants in parks. Feast your eyes on the décor of these designer restaurants – their food is great too. Keep traveling off the beaten culinary path with these new restaurants in Montréal. There's no need to change into fancy duds at these new casual restaurants and cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries. Go out for a great brunch, try restaurants open from brunch to well past dinner or grab something quick at Montréal lunch counters. Any time of day grab a pick-me-up at Montréal's indie coffee shops. And later on, relax with a perfect cocktail or have a drink away from it all in a hidden bar. If you're looking for local food and Québécois classics, follow our guides to the best poutine, the best Montréal bagels and the best smoked meat, Montréal's top chocolatières and more musts for foodies visiting Montréal. For something lighter, seek out these health-conscious restaurants and great sushi restaurants, and peruse our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. On the other hand, indulge your sweet tooth with our guide to Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops. Explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours. And if you're traveling with kids, check out our ideas for great places to eat with kids in Montréal.

On stage

Montréal's English theatre fall season kicks off with Théâtre Passe Muraille's Sound of the Beast, starring Donna-Michelle St. Bernard and co-presented by Canada’s oldest professional Black theatre company, Black Theatre Workshop, at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels from October 3 to 14, while the Centaur Theatre Company launches its historic 50th season with the Montréal premiere of Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the Oscar-winning writer of Moonlight, running from October 9 to 28. Tony-winning musical Once tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant who bond through song, at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts from October 7 to 28. See the circus as never before in innovative acrobatic show Machine de cirque at La TOHU from October 10 to 14. Discover Montréal's contemporary dance scene this season with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal's adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence, from October 4 to 13 at Place des Arts, while world-renowned dancer and choreographer Louise Lecavalier treats us to So Blue on October 12 and 13 at Usine C and Danse Danse presents the evocative L'un L'autre by dancer-choreographers Sylvain Lafortune and Esther Rousseau-Morin at Cinquième Salle from October 16 to 20. Leading up to its opening day, the Arab World Festival of Montréal presents free dance and music performances in Place des Arts from October 12 to 13. Phénomena merges performance art, theatre and multimedia art creations, from the Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Dragon Good Time Fun Fun Show to a 2BOYS.TV performance for only twelve audience members to the rollicking Cabaret Dada Love. Gabriel Plante revisits Corneille’s Le Cid to tell a story of present-day overlords and structures of control, at Théâtre La Chapelle from October 10 to 18 (with English surtitles on October 12 and 19). Multidisciplinary artist Émilie Monnet's Okinum is an immersive ode to the power of dreams and intuition, at Théâtre d’Aujourd'hui up to October 20. And the Casino de Montréal’s It’s Country nights entertain and delight with stage shows, country-inspired cocktails and food, a mechanical bull and more.

On screen

Over 300 feature films and shorts from Canada and around the world make the 47th Festival du nouveau cinéma a must for film fans – from October 3 to 14, the festival presents films, including closing film Guy by Alex Lutz and a surprise Sunday screening of Roma by Alfonso Cuaron, panel discussions and presentations, industry events, great parties and interactive Virtual Reality showcase FNC Explore every afternoon at Complexe Desjardins. Experience the universe's timeless vibrations in new virtual reality exhibition Echo: The Sound of Space at tech and culture hub Phi Centre, featuring VR films that let us travel the world and beyond. The 6th edition of the Au Contraire Film Festival screens shorts and feature films that break down the stigma around mental health, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from October 16 to 19. See The Public Image Is Rotten, a behind-the-scenes documentary on John Lydon of Sex Pistols' and Public Image Ltd. fame, at the Phi Centre on October 17, followed on October 18 by documentary The Man from Mo'Wax, about the record label's founder James Lavelle. In the SAT's Satosphere dome downtown, see 360-degree immersive film Noesis all week and family-friendly 360-degree film Creatures on the afternoon of October 13. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia creations EXO, The Blind Man with Starry Eyes, Continuum and Aurōrae at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Go on a wild ride in IMAX at the Montréal Science Centre with Pandas 3D (plus hands-on science activities and a 3.8-billion-year-old moon rock at the museum!). And Mile End's new cinema, Cinéma Moderne, features art-house and cult films from around the world every day, plus daytime family programming on weekends.


Art for all

Among this season's must-see museum exhibitions, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts presents Alexander Calder - Radical Inventor, the first Canadian retrospective of the American modern art giant, with over 150 paintings, sculptures, jewelry and other graphic works on display. The MMFA also features Resplendent Illuminations: Books of Hours from the 13th to the 16th Century in Quebec Collections, video installation Liminals: A Para-fiction of Transcendence by Jeremy Shaw and a fascinating Inuit art collection of powerful works ranging from the modern to the traditional. New multimedia art brings the walls of Place des Arts to life this fall – on the mosaic of screens in the walkway between theatres, see Wunderkammer by Allison Moore and Migration by Dominique T Skoltz. Galerie de l'UQAM and Cinémathèque québécoise explore themes of revolution in cross-disciplinary exhibition and film program Uprisings. Among All These Tundras features contemporary art by Indigenous artists from around the circumpolar world at Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery downtown. Visit Mile End galleries Atelier Circulaire, Centre CLARK, Dazibao, Diagonale, Occurrence, Optica, Perte De Signal and Topo in the 5400 block of de Gaspé Avenue in Mile End. Head to Mile Ex to see Never Apart's new fall exhibitions. Stop by Parisian Laundry in Saint-Henri to see intriguing exhibitions Instances by Marie-Michelle Deschamps and Going Together by Alexandre David, while Galerie D'Este in the Plateau presents Marigold Santos's painting exhibition in this drought, flood my hollow heart, and OBORO presents collective exhibition Où sommes-nous with Judith Albert, Dana Claxton, Nik Forrest and Katrin Freisager. Painter David Farsi's monumental artwork La comédie du monde, ombres et lumières graces the walls of La TOHU while nature's wonders await in Frédéric-Back Park next door. There's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city. And fashion is art at The Big Fashion Sale by Quebec Designers (also known as the Braderie), featuring over 130 fashion designers from Québec, from October 18 to 21 at Bonsecours Market in Old Montréal.


History near and far

Major exhibition Queens of Egypt transports us back in time to discover royal lifestyles through ancient objects at Pointe-à-Callière, one of the city's many kid-friendly museums. Haute couture fashion wows at the McCord Museum's Balenciaga – Master of Couture exhibition, while Shalom Montreal – Stories and Contributions of the Jewish Community and photography exhibition Montréal Storefronts on McGill College Avenue provides insight into Montréal's past. See the City of Light circa the 18th century in the Stewart Museum's Paris on Display: 18th-Century Boutiques exhibition. Based in research spanning three Québec universities, the Écomusée du fier monde's InterReconnaissance – Une mémoire citoyenne se raconte gathers voices and traces from 50 years of mobilizing for the rights of minority groups in Québec. The Musée de Lachine presents history and archeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art. At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, explore Scripts for a new world: Film storyboards by Alessandro Poli. And take more recent history home with you with our ultimate guide to vintage shopping in Montréal.


Jazz and classical music

The 19th edition of L'OFF Festival de jazz de Montréal presents eclectic jazz from October 4 to 13 – among the many acts to see on Friday and Saturday check out saxophonist Jean-Pierre Zanella with Australian composer Mike Ryan in Feliciano's Dilemma at the Phi Centre, saxophonist Joel Miller, a free concert with Pierre Labbé and a closing concert with Samuel Blais and drummers Dan Weiss and John Hollenbeck. The Canadian International Organ Competition (CIOC) Festival celebrates the beauty and history of organ music in a Gala Concert at Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal on October 19, but before that features two by-donation concerts on October 14: Julie Pinsonneault at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal and Eunsung Kim at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Côte-des-Neiges. Among the fall season's classical concerts, the McGill Chamber Orchestra performs The Azrieli Music Prizes Gala Concert at Maison symphonique on October 15. The Calder Quartet performs at Bourgie Concert Hall on October 17 in connection with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Calder exhibition. And Christoph Eschenbach conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in a concert of Tchaikovsky and Marc-André Dalbavie’s La source d’un regard at Maison symphonique from October 18 to 20.

More live music

On Friday night, tap your toes to The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra Tribute to Frank Sinatra at Place des Arts, hear the dramatic music of Game of Thrones live at the Bell Centre, rapper NF and opener Nightly at MTELUS, German electronic producer and composer Pantha Du Prince at Théâtre Fairmount or folk-punks AJJ and Kimya Dawson at L’Astral. Dance to the electronic sounds of Grammy-nominated music producer Andrew Bayer with opener Spencer Brown at the SAT. British rock band Ttng comes to Ritz P.D.B. on its ten-year anniversary tour, and Fwonte launches his album No wanga 3 blending hip-hop, electro and traditional Haitian music at Le Ministère. On Saturday, see British synth-pop band Years & Years at MTELUS, Californian punks Swingin' Utters at Foufounes Électriques and electronic rock band Dear Rouge at Petit Campus, and dance to the house and bass music of Matroda at New City Gas. From October 15 to 20, the 15th edition of the AKOUSMA festival highlights the experimental digital sounds of emerging and internationally known composers at the Society for Arts and Technology and Usine C. On Sunday night, catch L.A. electronic music makers The Glitch Mob at Corona Theatre and Noah Kahan at Café Campus. Monday night rocks with Oh Sees at Le National. Tuesday night brings none other than Phil Collins and all his hits to the Bell Centre, while singer-songwriter and actor Tyler Hilton plays Le Ministère. And on Wednesday night, British singer-songwriter Jessie J and opener Ro James shake up MTELUS and Kali Uchis performs at L'Olympia. For even more music throughout the week, check out our picks on how to get your nightlife on in Montréal, where to hear live music in Montréal, 10 great places to see indie bands, Montréal's best jazz and blues clubs and our guide to electronic music in Montréal. And if you want to bring the music home with you, go record shopping at Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden, blogger

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

Facebook / Twitter Instagram

To see the list of our regular contributors, click here.